[whatwg] Graceful Degradation and Mime Types [was: trailing slash]

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Mon Dec 4 15:27:09 PST 2006

On Mon, 2006-12-04 at 15:07 +0900, Karl Dubost wrote:

> Give the possibility that the "textarea" of a form to trigger an  
> editor, (A kind of setenv $EDITOR "editorname")(potentially wysiwyg).
> and/or implement a real wysiwyg editor for forms in browsers (which  
> sounds a bit silly when you really think about it)

> There will be less nightmare of hand code editing.

Nothing based on WYSIWIG principles will /ever/ produce good semantic
markup. Semantic markup is about what we think not what we see; and what
we think is difficult to deduce unambiguously from what we see. Also,
the sheer variation of browsers and their configuration ensures that
others will rarely see the same thing anyway.

With that caveat, especially given the fact that most browsers compete
to make textarea as unusable as possible, allowing users to open an
external editor for text inputs and textarea is an extremely sane idea.
It's suggested by UUAG:


Naturally, only text browsers actually do anything so sensible.
Fortunately, you can add this basic capability to many other browsers
using some applications and plugins which I'll list at the end.

Web Forms 2.0 tries to help by including a type attribute. This is
better than nothing, but it's not great for two reasons. First, because
usually user-contributed content comes in the form of parts of documents
(e.g. a string of HTML) not whole documents. Second, because text/html
is not nearly specific enough to cover even the different branches of
(X)HTML, let alone the microformats and so forth.


First I should mention the slightly different approach of the Zope
External Editor, which will use the correct editor for the object in
question (e.g. an image editor for image objects):


I've found ways to open textarea in an external application for every
platform and every browser except Konqueror (anywhere), and Opera and
Amaya (on *nix). If anyone knows how to do the same with those, perhaps
you could add to this list.


Ben Collerson's external.exe can launch the editor of your choice from
any Windows text area, including Internet Explorer and Firefox:


Read that together with this old Vim tip if you want to use it:



Not being (seemingly) designed to make the simplest things impossible,
Lynx, ELinks, and W3M all include the built-in capability to launch
external editors of your choice for any text input or textarea.


The following Firefox extensions can launch the external editor of your
choice for textarea:

Mozex : http://mozex.mozdev.org/ (Windows and *nix only)

ViewSourceWith : https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/394/

Editus Externus : https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1195/

There is also an extension that always launches the same WYSWIG editor:

Xihna Here! : https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1449/


Apparently, you can open a textarea in OmniWeb with TextMate using the
"Edit in Textmate" Cocoa input manager:



This implies you could equally use:

Vi Input Manager : http://www.corsofamily.net/jcorso/vi/

Annard Brouwer’s XML [and HTML] Input Manager :

Safari also uses Cocoa, so this will work there too; it may also work in
Camino, though not as seamlessly:


I can find no equivalent plugins for Emacs, BBEdit, or JEdit, but
alternatively one can heavily personalize the Cocoa Text System to suit
one's exact needs:


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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